This will be my last big travel report of the year! Can I get an amen?! PHEW! What a year!
Our second day in Rome we headed to the smallest country in the world: Vatican City.
This tiny independent country of little more than 100 acres, contained entirely within Rome, has its own postal system, armed guards, helipad, mini-train station, and radio station (KPOP). Vatican City contains St. Peter's Basilica (with Michelangelo's exquisite Pietà) and the Vatican Museum (with Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel).
Lots of pink and orange on our walk to get to the entrance.
We saw a plethora of nuns :)
We purchased our tickets online a few weeks ago after reading that lines can be hours and hours long. There was a lot of rigamarole and security and various lines and stairs and levels to get in, but we made it!
Looking out into Rome.
Laocoön and His Sons
I overheard a tour guide saying this was the Zoo Room or something along the lines of a place with a lot of animals.
Room after room of amazing things.
instagrammed after photoshopping to make it lighter and more true to how it looks in real life.
You guys. I don't think I've ever been more moved by a piece of art than by the Sistine Chapel ceiling. I have seen dozens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of pictures of the Sistine Chapel ceiling - specifically the Creation of Adam - throughout my 29 years of life. I've seen it printed on t-shirts, postcards, calendars, mugs, pencils, anything and everything that can have an image on it has had the Creation of Adam printed on it. But here, in the Sistine Chapel, I saw it with mine own two eyes, in the flesh. Not a reproduction, not a print, not a copy, THE REAL DEAL. It was surreal. I'll never forget it.
The Sistine Chapel is the pope's personal chapel and also the place where, upon the death of the ruling pope, a new pope is elected. The Sistine Chapel is famous for Michelangelo's pictorial culmination of the Renaissnace, showing the story of creation with a powerful God weaving in and out of each scene through that busy first week. This is an optimistic and positive expression of the High Renaissance and a stirring example of the artistic and theological maturity of the 33-year-old Michelangelo, who spent four years on this work. The ceiling shows the history of the world before the birth of Jesus. We see God creating the world, creating man and woman, destroying the earth by flood, and so on. When the ceiling was finished and revealed to the public it simply blew them away. It was unlike anything seen before. It both caps the Renaissance and turns it in a new direction. In perfect Renaissance spirit, it mixes Old Testament prophets with classical figures. But the style is more dramatic, shocking, and emotional than the balanced Renaissance works before it. This is a very personal work - the Gospel according to Michelangelo - but its themes and subject matter are universal. Many art scholars contend that the Sistine Chapel ceiling is the single greatest work of art by any one human being. I would have to concur.
Although somehow I didn't realize I was going into THE church when Chris told me to go inside the church. I thought it was just another one of the hundreds of churches in Rome. Mommy brain, seriously.
Now, I've seen some amazing churches here in Europe. But when I walked in this church I knew it wasn't just a regular church. It was St. Peter's. There is no doubt. This is the richest and grandest church on earth.
I felt like a tiny ant inside this huge church.
Michelangelo's Pietà is gaurded behind bulletproof glass to the right of the entrance.
Back outside, looking left.
Taller than a football field is long, it was well worth the sweaty-hot-mess climb up the dome to get this view. The curved colonnade in St. Peter's Square was designed by Bernini and is supposed to look like the arms of Christ encircling and welcoming humanity.
Bernini's curved colonnade.
Final destination: the Castel Sant'Angelo. Built as a tomb for the emperor, used through the Middle Ages as a castle, prison, and place of last refuge for popes under attack, and today a museum, this giant pile of ancient bricks is packed with history.
Looking up at the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II.
Then we walked back to the metro station, rode back to the train station and took a tram back to our apartment where we rested the rest of the day.
That concludes our traveling for 2014!!! Next trip: Naples, Pompeii, and the Amalfi coast. But we're looking forward to sticking around for Christmas :)